Thursday, 22 January 2009 1:54 PM

Solomons National Anthem Composer Dies in Honiara

The man behind the Solomon Islands national anthem has passed away today after a long illness.

The Solomon Islands Fijian, Panapasa Balekana, 79, originally from Kandavu in Fiji, came to the Solomons to work in the government as a mechanic from 1953 until he retired in 1988.

He was single at the time he came into the country before settling down with a Fijian woman and had two children.

The late Mr. Balekana came to love the place and people, choosing to stay on after his contract expired.

In an earlier interview, the late Mr. Balekana recounted that at the height of the ethnic tension in 2000, he was asked by the police to take his family and move out of the country for their safety.

"I refused and told them that this is my home and should anything happen, this is where I'm supposed to die, this is the place - my home," the late Mr. Balekana had stated.

He also got involved heavily with his local church activities, Wesley United Church, joining the choir through time until he was too weak.

His son is currently taking up the responsibility he left in the church - the choirmaster.

The interview carried also revealed the little known tale behind the nation's anthem.

Before 7th of July 1978, the Solomon Islands Government decided that a national anthem should be sung on the Independence Day. The decision was publicly announced on the radio and there was call for submission from the public.

The late Mr. Balekana said his decision to submit his piece was shared with his wife Matila "and we both agreed to enter the competition".

"My wife and I wholeheartedly agreed that this anthem should be a prayer for our new nation and that we should seek God's guidance, for He said 'Without Me, you can do nothing'."

After much prayer, the late Mr. Balekana said he received guidelines and directions in a dream. When he woke up, with the help of his wife they put tune and words together on papers. They realized they were not alone in what they were doing and that made them more determined to get on with the task.

Through continuous prayers and total dependence on the power of God, they were amazed to see words and tune form and fit in together perfectly well.

"We knew it was God at work from the beginning to the end."

With the help of the Wesley United Church choir at that time, they sang the words and tune and taped it, ready for submission as part of the competition. The rest as they say is history, a composition out of a dream pieced together the national anthem of Solomon Islands.

"Solomon Islands national anthem was written in a form of prayer asking God for safe keeping and protection of our new nation," the late Mr. Balekana said. "By the power and grace of God, we may receive joy, peace, progress and prosperity, if only we can be able to work together in harmony. These may be the foundation of building our nation, as we can be rest assured that we will reach our destination- stands forever more."

The late Mr. Balekana shared his dream to see those who are placed in power to make decisions take the first step in encouraging the people of Solomon Islands to forget their differences and help each other build this nation through love, forgiveness, grace and so on.

"If people have the attitude of a child, you would easily forgive another person, love, trust and relate yourself well with any person no matter what culture he or she is from."

He said to have the nature of a child among other characters means forgive easily, love even if you are badly hurt by another person, humble and don't hold grudges against another person.

He added that riches could not bring peace but only through love and concern for another.

"Building of a community is a hard thing to do but, a community can see its way forward if they work together."

The late Mr. Balekana said the only thing he would regret should anything happen to him is seeing people divided. It is his desire to see people come together and build each other up as brothers and sisters and stand forever more.

THE WORDS OF SOLOMON ISLANDS NATIONAL ANTHEM

GOD SAVE OUR SOLOMON ISLANDS
FROM SHORE TO SHORE
BLESSED ALL OUR PEOPLE AND ALL OUR LAND
WITH YOUR PROTECTING HANDS
JOY, PEACE, PROGRESS, AND PROSPERITY
THAT MEN SHOULD BROTHERS BE
MAKE NATIONS SEE
OUR SOLOMON ISLANDS, OUR SOLOMON ISLANDS
OUR NATION SOLOMON ISLANDS
STAND FOREVER MORE


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